Lake Forest, Ill. — Given another opportunity to win, Marc Leishman didn’t give anyone much of a chance in the BMW Championship.
Staked to a five-shot lead, Leishman made back-to-back birdies late in the final round Sunday to put away the final challenge, then closed with a birdie for a 4-under 67 to set the tournament record and win by five over Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
It was Leishman’s second victory this year, and it sends him to East Lake as the No. 4 seed in the FedEx Cup, giving him a clear shot at the $10 million prize.
Leishman finished at 23-under 261, breaking the 72-hole tournament record that Tiger Woods set at Cog Hill in 2007.
The timing could not have been better for Leishman, a 33-year-old Australian. In his last event two weeks ago, he lost a two-shot lead on the back nine at the TPC Boston and said that loss stung more than most.
“I had a few scars from a few weeks ago,” Leishman said. “I was just really, really determined to not let that happen again. Got it done.”
And it was never really close.
Rose is the only player who got within two shots of the lead, only for Leishman to answer with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and a 10-footer for birdie on the 16th. Rose closed with a 65.
Fowler made a late run when he was too far back, and he needed one more birdie on the 18th to grab the No. 5 seed for the FedEx Cup finale next week at the Tour Championship. He ripped driver off the fairway and over the stream to the back rough. It was a bold play that preceded a pair of meager efforts — a chip that came up 25 feet short, and a birdie putt that didn’t to the hole. He closed with a 67.
Jon Rahm birdied four of his last five holes for a 67 and will be the No. 5 seed.
Jordan Spieth shot 65 to tie for seventh and kept the No. 1 seed, followed by Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Leishman and Rahm. The points are reset to give all 30 players at East Lake a mathematical chance, but the top five seeds only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup.
As usual, the only drama at Conway Farms was who made it to East Lake, and a pair of PGA Tour rookies delivered.
Xander Schauffele, who won The Greenbrier Classic in July, opened with 10 pars and two bogeys and was not even in the picture until the San Diego native played his final six holes in 6-under par, including a 30-foot eagle when he drove the green on the par-4 15th.
Patrick Cantlay fell out of the top 30 when he took bogey on the 16th hole. Needing a birdie to get into the Tour Championship, he hit a hybrid onto the green to 50 feet, left his eagle attempt some 10 feet short and calmly holed the putt to get in.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia injected more drama than necessary. He figured he needed a par on the final hole to get into the top 30 when a bogey would have worked. His second shot was on the rocks in the stream, and after taking close to 30 minutes on a drop, he smacked it over the green into the grandstand, got more relief, and then got up-and-down for his par.
Phil Mickelson wasn’t so fortunate. He made three bogeys on the front nine and tried to get back in the game with an eagle on the reachable par-4 15th. Needing an eagle on the 18th hole to make it to East Lake, Mickelson’s 140-foot pitch-and-run hit the hole and popped out after the 30-minute wait on Garcia.
Leishman earlier this year won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The third victory of his tour career was by far the biggest, and went far beyond the strong field, the $1,575,000 paycheck or his standing in the FedEx Cup.
At Evian-les-Bains, France,defying driving rain and hail in a playoff, Anna Nordqvist beat unheralded American Brittany Altomare at the first extra hole to win the Evian Championship.
Nordqvist took the fifth and final major of the season by sinking a 4-foot putt for a bogey 5 on the soaked 18th hole while the 102nd-ranked Altomare had a six.
Course workers removed pools of standing water from the 18th green as the players approached the putting surface after their third shots. The par-4 hole played long all afternoon and was near-treacherous for the playoff.
“I am from Sweden and I’m freezing,” said Nordqvist, who was confined to bed for two weeks in July by a bout of mononucleosis. “I feel like I’m pretty used to bad conditions and that was probably some of the worst I’ve seen.”
The 30-year-old Nordqvist earned $547,500 for the win, her first major since the 2009 LPGA Championship.
Altomare got $340,000 for only her second career top-10 finish, three weeks after she secured a third-place tie at the Portland Classic.
At Spijk, Netherlands, Romain Wattel shot a steady 2-under 69 to finish 15 under and win the KLM Open, the Frenchman’s first victory in 187 tournaments on the European Tour.
Wattel, who posted a 7-under 64 to move into contention on Saturday, had four birdies and two bogeys in the final round and parred his final seven holes to close out his maiden win.
Overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand blew his chance of victory by finding the water and shooting double bogeys on the 15th and 18th holes. He finished on 12 under in a five-way tie for ninth.